Family’s fears over asbestos in home

SHOCK DISCOVERY ... Ian and Rebecca Swindell in their asbestos-riddled home.
SHOCK DISCOVERY ... Ian and Rebecca Swindell in their asbestos-riddled home.

A FAMILY from South Tyneside want to be moved after housing bosses told them their home contains asbestos.

Ian and Rebecca Swindell moved into their South Tyneside Homes (STH) property in Bardon Court, Harton Moor, South Shields, three years ago.

They knew the majority of the walls were covered in Artex, but it was only by chance, six weeks ago, that workmen discovered they contained the potentially killer substance.

Mr Swindell, 47, said: “They must have been aware three years ago that the Artex was likely to contain asbestos, but yet they still moved us in.

“We have children living in this house, and we now don’t feel it’s safe or healthy for them to be in this kind of environment.

“All we have been told is not to chip the walls and everything should be fine.

“That’s all very well and good when there’s youngsters running about.”

The couple who are parents to Grant, four, Jake, 11, and Sophie 18, only found out their house was contaminated only by accident.

An officer from STH, who was dealing with an unrelated issue with a skirting board, used the toilet and heard an odd noise.

After finding the ceiling’s ventilation fan had been boxed in, but was still working, he arranged for it to be removed.

Before workers could remove it, routine tests were carried out on the plaster, and it was then found asbestos was present.

Mr Swindell said: “The walls are an awful green colour.

“We want to redecorate, but we’ve been told not to disturb the plaster.

“The bathroom has been left in a right mess too, we’ve been told we need to use a special kind of paint over the new plaster, but nobody has bothered to tell us what kind.

“We are fuming.

“Families with young children shouldn’t be left in houses which are known to contain asbestos.”

Mark Whittle, Director of Investment for South Tyneside Homes, said: “We can confirm that we made an appointment to replace the extractor fan in Mr Swindle’s home on August 23.

“Due to the presence of asbestos safely sealed within the Artex ceiling, we arranged for an HSE Licensed Asbestos Contractor to assist with this initial work.

“Following the completion of this, two of our team leaders visited the property on August 24, but realised the finished quality of the ceiling was not up to our usual high standards so arranged the removal and reinstatement of the entire ceiling.

“The ceiling was removed and re-boarded on Friday of last week, with follow-up works completed on Saturday to minimise the disruption to the tenants and their family.

“We have arranged for our own Property Services to carry out some minor adjustments to the fixings of the lights and to fit the shower rail.

“We must stress that the Artex was sealed and in good condition and therefore posed no risk to Mr Swindle and his family.

“Artex, like other asbestos containing materials, is safe so long as it is not disturbed and we have arranged for our asbestos manager to contact Mr Swindle to allay any fears and answer any queries he might have.”

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